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Building Community. Growing Leaders.

Just a few years ago, Taleesha did not know what her future would hold.

She was a young mother of a two-year-old, relying on her parents and child’s father for income. To give her son a life of comfort and opportunity, she knew she needed to make a change.


So, Taleesha joined our CHAMPION Network, which provides job training and placement to Cypress Hills residents. Here, Taleesha received academic training, career training in transportation, and job placement as an Access-a-Ride driver. Today, she transports disabled residents around the city in her very own CareRide car.


Equipped with a new job and the skills to succeed, Taleesha has a bright future ahead of her. “I thank the CHAMPION Network for opening up doors for me,” she said. “I feel financially free, and I feel that wherever my path takes me, I have the experience and support to persevere.”

Raymi came to the US from the Dominican Republic when she was 8. In high school, she doubted her ability to go to college because she “didn’t have the money” and “there was a lack of information...I didn’t know anybody in my situation who had gone to college.” But once she came to CHLDC’s Student Success Center, she learned that her chances of attending college were very good.

Thanks to her hard work and assistance from CHLDC, Raymi graduated from Hunter College with a degree in Sociology and Public Policy. She currently works as a Public Service Fellow in the Office of the President at Hunter College. While she attended school, she also worked part-time as a College Coach with our organization, helping her peers navigate the challenges of college life.


Raymi loved working with CHLDC because, “it’s really rewarding...knowing that you’re an advocate for somebody.” She dreams of using her education to help underserved, marginalized people and communities.

One of our after school parents, Ceucynth has three elementary school children—a kindergartener, a second-grader and a fifth-grader who are all enrolled in CHLDC’s after school program at Cypress Hills Community School/P.S. 89. Last year her kids did not attend the program, and she was struggling to find constructive activities for her children to do after school.

“They do so many different things—one of my kids plays the saxophone in the band, they have performances at the end of every school year…I also participate in a parent engagement program and I have even accompanied them to a show in Manhattan.”

Her kids love attending the afterschool program partly because they have such a great relationship with CHLDC’s program staff, especially the P.S. 89 Director Marleny Polanco. “They love her because she is so friendly and so in touch with my kids and she shows an interest in them…I can see other
kids have a great relationship with her.”


Ceucynth is very grateful for the academic support our program provides. “I can see that they reinforce the things the children learn during the school day…I notice that they have been doing a much better job on their homework.”


Marcia immigrated to the United States from Ecuador in 1999 and bought a house in Cypress Hills/East New York 10 years ago. Over time, the physical condition of her house deteriorated and she was unable to afford to fix her home. “There was a leak on the second floor and through the windows, there was a lot of cold air coming in... I would have had to take out a $20,000 loan from the bank to pay for these repairs.” In addition, she was wasting a lot of money on her gas and electric bills because of these defects.


Marcia first came aware of CHLDC when she enrolled her daughter in the Cypress Hills Child Care Corporation’s Head Start Program. She was referred to our Healthy Homes program and we were able to do the repairs. Our Healthy Homes Initiative provides home repair grants to low and moderate income families that improve small homes in the neighborhood. 


“They fixed the ceiling and changed the windows on the first and second floors.” She has also been able save money on her monthly utilities. 

Rakim is a young man who credits CHLDC with helping him get accepted to college. After applying, he was accepted to over ten highly competitive institutions with full rides to almost every one. He was a Cesiah Toro Mullane scholarship recipient as well. 


Rakim now studies at Bard College in New York, where he is currently taking pre-med classes. Rakim says: “I don’t think I would have gotten accepted to any of the schools I applied to without CHLDC. They gave me the tools and the knowledge that I needed to

"They helped me navigate the college process. I had the potential but not the people to steer me right. I don't know where I would be without them to be honest."

Pretty was thrilled to discover CHLDC’s Student Success Center on the Lane Campus, saying “It was great…I always wanted more support!” Our
College Counselors advised her on the different options she had in terms of majors, academic programs, tuition, financial aid, and scholarships, which helped her to make an informed decision. She is now attending New York City College of Technology where she is majoring in Human Services and is expected to graduate in 2020.

Pretty also works part-time in our Persistence Program as a College Coach helping her peers navigate their college experience. She advises
her peers on financial aid matters and tells them about various campus events and student services. “Learning about FASFA, TAP, the
financial aid office and registrar’s office helped me become a College Coach…I feel like it’s a great opportunity because it can help me with
my future career.”


Pretty plans on getting her Master’s degree in
Human Services and wants to be a counselor or a therapist to young adults.

Meet Rakim
Meet Taleesha
Meet Marcia
Meet Ceucynth
Meet Raymi
Meet Pretty
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